James Taylor showed England’s selectors his good form by striking a patient 64 not out against Australia at the BrightonandHoveJobs.com County Ground.
Taylor batted for almost three and a half hours on a day cut short by two rain interruptions as he and Rory Hamilton-Brown, who hit a cavalier 73 from 51 balls, guided Sussex to 228 for six in reply to the tourists’ 366 for five declared.
The 23-year-old Nottinghamshire batsman is playing for Sussex at the request of the ECB, with questions remaining over Kevin Pietersen’s availability for the third Investec Test - for which the squad is announced tomorrow morning - due to a calf strain.
Taylor was almost yorked first ball by Mitchell Starc and did enjoy some further luck, surviving a hard low chance to Steven Smith at second slip off Jackson Bird on 23 and then edging a drive at the same bowler wide of the cordon five runs later.
By the close, however, he had battled through 146 balls, hitting five fours, and been joined in an unbroken seventh-wicket stand of 43 by Chris Jordan, who moved confidently to 23 not out.
Sussex initially struggled to 33 for three in the morning session before Taylor and Hamilton-Brown rallied in a stand of 106 in 21 overs.
Australia, resuming their first innings on 354 for five, batted on for 2.4 overs to allow Smith to cut a boundary off Monty Panesar - which took him from his overnight 98 to 102 not out.
After the tourists' declaration, Sussex quickly lost Luke Wells, who was bowled for four when driving expansively at Jackson, while Michael Yardy went for a duck as he flapped a short ball from Starc to long-leg.
Chris Nash struck four fours in a bright 27, yet he had also played and missed several times at the impressive Bird when he pushed forward to another leg-cutter from the paceman and edged to Smith at second slip.
Hamilton-Brown immediately launched a counter-attack and was particularly harsh on off-spinner Nathan Lyon as he raced to 50 from 34 balls with two sixes and seven fours.
Taylor, watching from the other end, was content merely to collect five singles amid Hamilton-Brown completing his half-century.
At lunch, Sussex had recovered to 98 for three, with Hamilton-Brown on 55 and Taylor six.
However, the latter accelerated after the interval with a series of cuts and sweeps at Ashton Agar's left-arm spin.
Hamilton-Brown fell for 73, thin-edging a cut at Agar to wicketkeeper Matthew Wade, and walked off to the applause of a 7,000 sell-out crowd after hitting two sixes and 11 fours.
Rain forced the players off the field at 2:30pm but play resumed after tea, and a further 27 overs were possible before more inclement weather arrived at 5:40pm to curtail proceedings for the day.
Sussex will resume on tomorrow's final day 138 runs adrift of Australia's first-innings score.